Oklahoma Supreme Court Joseph Watt sent Gov. Mary Fallin a letter today saying he plans to retire effective Dec. 31.
Watt, 70, was born and educated in Texas before moving to Altus. He served as a special district judge and associate district judge prior to being named to the Oklahoma Supreme Court by then-Gov. David Walters in 1992.
Watt’s letter to Fallin was three paragraphs:
I wish to inform you that I plan to retire as Justice for the 9th Supreme Court Judicial District effective December 31, 2017.
My years in serving as a member of the Judiciary have been the best years of my life and I have been truly blessed to serve the citizen’s of this great state for more than 30 years.
I look forward to the next chapter of my life, spending more time with my grandchildren, traveling with my wife Cathy and taking active retired status beginning January 1, 2018.
Fallin will select a successor for Watt from names provided to her by the Judicial Nominating Commission, which received criticism for its handling of the last Oklahoma Supreme Court vacancy. The JNC will accept applications for the position.
Fallin praised Watt for being fair and knowledgeable in her press release announcing Watt’s impending retirement.
“Justice Watt has served the state well while being on the bench for more than 30 years, including the past 25 years as a Supreme Court justice,” Fallin said. “He’s been a man of integrity, and has served with distinction. I appreciate his knowledge, dedication and fairness while on the high court. I wish him the best in his retirement and want to thank his wife and family, too, for their sacrifice and service to our state.”
Watt did not appear for any of the court’s recent hearings concerning the state’s budget agreement in August. His absence was not explained at the time.